Pro-democracy groups have called for large-scale demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities on Tuesday, June 30, over the implementation of the August 2019 transitional government agreement. The protests are also expected to call for a more open investigation into the killing of over 100 protesters by security forces as they cleared sit-in sites in the capital on June 3 2019. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the rallies, which come on the first anniversary of the large scale protests which forced the country's Transitional Military Council (TMC) to form a joint civilian-military administration under Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, two months after the coup which toppled president Omar al-Bashir. However, the date also marks the anniversary of the 1989 coup which brought Bashir to power, and there have been concerns that Islamist supporters of the former president may attempt to hijack or disrupt Tuesday's demonstrations.
On Sunday, June 28, government officials claimed to have arrested dozens of Islamist activists who were allegedly planning to instigate violence during the pro-democracy protests and provoke clashes with security forces. In response to the alleged Islamist agitation, authorities have announced that bridges in Khartoum will be closed on Tuesday, as well as hotels and guest houses where alleged Islamist supporters have been housed. The demonstrations also come amid strict quarantine measures and movement restrictions across the country due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, it is unclear whether security forces intend to enforce social distancing and lockdown measures during Tuesday's demonstrations.
Organizers have stated that the rallies will avoid sensitive areas such as the military headquarters and Presidential Palace in Khartoum. However, a heavy security forces presence is likely on Tuesday in Khartoum and other cities, and there remains an elevated risk of clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
Sudan is currently in a three-year transition period under a joint civilian-military administration after the long-serving president Omar al-Bashir was ousted amid widespread anti-government protests in April 2019. However, pro-democracy groups under the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) have continued to press for the expedited transfer to full civilian rule ahead of elections in 2022.
Tensions also remain over the clearing of pro-democracy sit-ins in Khartoum by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia on June 3 2019, during which over 100 protesters were killed. The transitional government has promised a full investigation into the incident, but the leader of the RSF Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemedti' Dagalo remains an influential figure in the transitional administration and there has so far been little accountability for the incident.
Those in Khartoum and over major cities are advised to monitor developments, minimise non-essential travel on Tuesday, and heed any directives issued by local authorities. All demonstrations and political gatherings in Sudan should be avoided due to the high risk of incidental violence and aggressive crowd-dispersal operations by security forces.
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